In 140 characters or less, tell us who you are and how you got to where you are today.
Small-town VT girl and former college athlete with big sports dreams. Endlessly curious and relentlessly emailing 😊. Every day is a loose ball, and I want possession.
What’s one trend in media or marketing that you’re buying or selling?
I’m a big believer in the power of real-time authenticity when it comes to building an engaging social sports experience. If I’m scrolling around on my phone and see a selfie-style video of a prominent athlete or a glimpse of a pregame huddle on IG Stories, I’m far more likely to be engaged than I am from a promo with highlights and pump-up music, even if the latter is better from a pure video quality perspective. And I do think that’s fairly unique to sports because of the pace and unpredictability. The “Game Of Thrones” teaser is amazing and going to be relevant every day of the week from now until April (which can’t come soon enough, by the way).
How do you define creativity?
Creativity is a recipe of vision, artistry, and originality. Clear headspace is the kitchen. And you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen!
What’s a lesson in audience engagement that every marketer could learn?
“Never mistake activity for achievement.” I’ve been using that John Wooden quote a lot lately because I think there’s a tendency to get caught up in social post volume as a barometer of success instead of setting bigger-picture goals and thinking strategically about the ways to achieve them. Each platform is different and each algorithm is subject to change so it’s important to continually reframe your objectives.
What’s the project or campaign that you’re proudest of? Why?
The ESPN social team covers so much ground and I’m proud of a lot of our work but the recurring project that gives me the most personal fulfillment is our collaboration with The V Foundation because we’ve been able to blend heartfelt storytelling and social strategy (donate button, swipe up to donate, etc.) to raise money for cancer research. So much of what we do day in and day out is about informing and entertaining so to be able to make a tangible impact on something as important as finding a cure for cancer will always top my list.
What are you working on right now? Any exciting future plans that you’re able to share?
We just launched new, MMA-focused social accounts and experienced a very successful first UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ so we’re excited for what the future holds there. Fight fans are incredibly passionate about their sport, and we plan to be far more active with point-to-point community engagement than we ever have been.
We’re also firing on all cylinders with IG Stories and IG Live. In a one-week span across all of our accounts we had real-time, behind-the-scenes content with Dana White, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Zion Williamson, the Celtics, the Warriors, Deshaun Watson, flyweight champ Henry Cejudo, and Mississippi State vs. South Carolina women’s hoops.
As a connected fan, what’s the most engaging piece of sports content that you have recently consumed?
Setting aside my bias for the amazing things ESPN has done recently, I really enjoyed Tom Brady’s postgame “Still Here” IG post. It starts with a selfie-style video that makes you feel like you’re walking down the street with him and Gronk and then transitions to a short highlight rip. (Notice how I didn’t set aside my Patriots’ bias!)
What’s been the biggest high and low of working in sports?
When you work in social media, there’s nothing like the feeling you get when you post something that immediately starts to take off with fans. The night Kobe dropped 60 points in his career finale while the Warriors set an NBA record with 73 wins is one that’ll stay with me awhile from that perspective. I also can’t complain about getting to work with some of my favorite athletes. The fact that walking to the parking lot with Tedy Bruschi has become normal is something 13-year-old Kaitee couldn’t have imagined.
The low isn’t one specific moment but rather that a career in sports content means that you work while most other people in your life do not. And that translates to difficult conversations with employees about scheduling needs, time off, avoiding burnout, etc. I’m constantly battling personal guilt with the challenge of being present around loved ones and being present for the team.
What’s one element of the sports industry that you’d like to see change?
I hope to meet and mentor more young women who aspire to work in behind-the-scenes sports roles. And I say that with no intention of taking anything away from those who have chosen an on-air career path. I think that for too damn long women who loved sports could really only see themselves in sideline roles. I love that they can now appreciate NBA analyst Doris Burke, hear Beth Mowins on play-by-play, watch Sarah Thomas referee a Chargers-Pats playoff game, the list goes on. But I also want them to dream about being Stephanie Druley, who now co-runs ESPN’s entire Event & Studio Production group. I’d love to walk through the halls of a sports media company, league, team, etc. and see more women in corner offices.
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Hear more from leaders and creators across the sports industry this June at Hashtag Sports, an annual conference designed for media and marketing professionals.